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A year of breakthroughs at BC Cancer

December 20, 2017

We are very fortunate to have so many key visionaries at BC Cancer, who think big and outside the box as we work to solve the complex issue of this disease. As a result, our knowledge of cancer continues to grow, in turn boosting our ability to better prevent, detect and treat it.

One of the biggest trends over the past year has been our focus on building the infrastructure to expand our understanding of single cell genomics. Through this we are able to look at the DNA sequences of a patient's individual cancer cells and isolate them to better understand the prevalence of these cells and what drives their resistance to treatment. We’ve had a lot of progress in implementing this technology here at BC Cancer, and as a result are world-leaders in this field.

In another exciting study, BC Cancer researchers were able to uncover multiple different subsets of ovarian cancer, in turn revolutionizing our understanding of this disease. This study, spearheaded by Drs. Sohrab Shah and David Huntsman, has laid the groundwork for the development of better and more targeted prevention and treatment strategies for ovarian cancer.

We’ve also introduced a new diagnostic test for prostate cancer as part of a clinical trial, where we’re able to localize the recurrence of cancer in men with a simple blood test – previously impossible with standard CT scans and MRIs. For some men, this has a big impact as we’re able to offer surgery or targeted radiation to control the spread of the disease, rather than general radiation that may not be as effective.

These are just few of the advancements we’ve made over the past year – advancements that have a very tangible effect on improving outcomes for patients across our province.

Indeed, it is these patients that inspire me and the rest of our team to continue to move the needle for treatment.  Our sole aim is to make disease not just tolerable, but one that is ultimately curable.

Philanthropy is essential to continue to push toward this goal. We can’t rely on government grants to conduct the research we need. Typically, government grants are focused on small projects with short term duration and in order to make a big impact, we need to think bigger and longer in regards to our research goals.

Generous support from donors to the BC Cancer Foundation enables us to build the infrastructure we need to continue to make a difference in the lives of British Columbians facing this disease.

Next week, I’ll discuss my goals for the future of cancer research and care here at BC Cancer.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Benard